While it’s been a few weeks since I actually ran the Point Mugu XTERRA 11k trail run, I still remember it in vivid detail. It’s easy to say that this run might be one of the most beautiful and breathtaking races I’ve participated in.
The race is located far outside Los Angeles, up the Pacific Coast Highway, north of Malibu at Point Mugu (obviously). I had never been to this park before so I was pretty excited. Driving along the Pacific Ocean and watching the sun rise was a wonderful race warmup and definitely put me in the right state of mind. It wasn’t until I started seeing hordes of cars parked along the side of the freeway that I knew I was near the park, snapped out of zen and into race mode.
This was also my first XTERRA race so I was interested to see how it was set up, knowing it would be smaller scale than some of the bigger city races I’d participated in. The start was well marked, plenty of tents were set up to get me signed in, snag my bib and Tshirt (not a great design), and prep me for the hills ahead. Having a race supporter (Jimmy Dean Freeman, ultra running coach, WS100 and Badwater finisher, and creator of the Coyote Running Group) give us a pre-race speech and explanation was awesome. It’s nice to have someone fun and approachable explain an unfamiliar course and some it’s finer points before I race it. It gave me the opportunity to form a strategy before I started.
All of the 11k racers readied themselves at the small start banner, prepped to leap up the first hill just meters ahead. Jimmy Dean mentioned that the first 400 meters are flat but are followed by over a mile of granite steps and climbs that are damn near single track, making passing almost impossible. The idea was to get out fast and avoid stalling behind slower runners in this first section. If all else failed I could make up some time on the wider fire roads at the higher elevations between mile 3-5.
BOOM. Jimmy counted us down and we were off. I tried to leap frog up towards the front but was almost immediately in a human traffic jam. Everyone seemed to want to fight for the front. Damn. And just like that, we were on the slope and steps. The run quickly turned to a slow single file walk upwards. The line of people as far up and back as I could see. Every section of wide trail, I did my best to move forward a few positions. I just wanted to get up to racers my speed and be able to control this race.
Once I got further up towards the fire roads where the trail widened out, I was able to push harder and pick up my pace. This race was also an opportunity for me to put some hard miles on my recently healed foot (which I injured during the San Fran Marathon) so I considered the first few slow miles warm-up and now it was time to push. I felt the spikes on my Salomon Speedcross 3s dig into the soft earth and glide me forward and upward.
It was around mile 4.5 that I clicked into my groove and began to open my eyes to my surrounding. I was at the top of some of the most majestic rolling hills I’ve seen in the Santa Monica mountains. The fog subtly drifted across the valley floor while the sun and heat began to rise. According to Jimmy Dean, the best was about to come. I couldn’t wait.
It was around mile 6 that this race took on an entirely new meaning to me. I had just crested the last climb, out of breath, and sweating at a good rate. The trail began to narrow again as it fell over the other side of the peak. I looked out at the view and was graced with an amazing 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean thousands of feet below. With the sun, the mist, and the steep cliff on either side of me, I felt invincible. The trail snaked it’s way back down along a skinny ridge on the side of a near vertical cliff. To my left, ocean. To my right, the slope I had just conquered. These last few miles, I made sure to enjoy every last drop. I let gravity do most of the work as I opened up my stride and ran the shit out of this downhill. I felt like I was flying. It was awesome.
Some of the best miles of trail I’ve ever run to date.
When I finished, my quads felt like jello, my heart was racing, and I wanted to immediately do it again. Well done, Point Mugu, well done. I grabbed my medal, ate some provided breakfast, iced my foot, walked to my car, and enjoyed the scenic drive home. Another race complete.
- Amazingly Beautiful course
- Great support for a trail run
- Well marked course
- Tshirts AND medals for a small race?! nice!
- Plenty of photographers throughout the course
- Early miles limit speed/ability
- Tshirts are ugly (already donated mine to charity)
RACE SUPPORT: 9/10
RACE ORGANIZATION: 9/10
BONUS: 11/10 (spectacular views, weather, shirt, fast expo)
PLACE OVERALL: 36/181
PLACE IN SEX: 33/106
PLACE IN DIVISION: 6/14
Tags: 11k, badwater, best malibu trail, ethan, ethan newberry, ginger, gingerrunner, hike, hiking, honey, honey stinger, jimmy dean, jimmy dean freeman, lance armstrong, malibu, newberry, point mugu, point mugu trail run, pt mugu, race, racing, review, runner, trail run, ultra, wester states, winner, ws100, xterra